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The Value of Operations Data at Your Fingertips

Operations data are the data points that are generated every meal period in a restaurant that directly affect sales and profitability.  Let’s break it down:

  • Marketing activities remind your customers that you still exist. 
  • People come in to eat at your restaurant. 
  • You serve them food (operations)
  • They pay and leave either happy or sad, eager to share their experience with their friends or trash you on Yelp. 
Your restaurant’s operations: the food, service, speed, perceived value, cleanliness, and safety standards all determine how your guests will feel when they walk out of your establishment. 

Remember we are restaurant operators and operations are our business. Operations data points are the measurement of our operations. Until this time in the restaurant industry it has been next to impossible to capture, organize, and analyze operations data for even a single restaurant location never mind a national chain.

There are two main reasons for this, the first is that we aren’t a completely automated business. We are predominantly a human business where people, not automated machines are the means of production. Number two the technology didn’t exist or it was too expensive to capture the data.

With the invention of tablets and smart phones we now have powerful handheld devices that can be used to capture operations data. A smartphone used every day to consistently capture operations data can feed a data analysis initiative that can drive down waste and increase profitability.

In the spirit of ops data and running better operations we are giving away our ebook, SMART Inspections, Drive Big Data. Click here to get it delivered to your inbox.

I will leave you with this thought. As technology becomes more prevalent in the industry, the companies that can identify, test, and implement new solutions more quickly will have a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Maybe You Shouldn’t Do Checklists

How could paper checklists be bad?  Paper checklists are bad because people pencil whip them or lie on them.  We recently conducted a survey of over 100 restaurant owners and managers.  94% of respondents believed that their teams weren’t completing their checklists accurately.

Which raises the question; why would a sane person have their team complete checklists that they know are being lied on?

A sane person wouldn’t, because they know that it is a waste of time and money.  It costs money to develop checklists.  It costs money to print checklists.  It costs money to complete checklists.  It costs money to file and store checklists and when it is time to get rid of them it costs money to shred and recycle checklists.

Yet as an industry we do spend money to have people complete checklists on paper even though we know they are being pencil whipped. Why do we do that?

The limitations of paper checklists aside, the fact that we still have people pencil whipping checklists in our businesses is because even a 30% accurate checklist is better than no checklist.

Let’s stick with the thought that even a partially completed checklist is better than no checklist.  A person who completes a line check 30% accurately is still checking 30% more items than a person who skips their line check.  They have a better chance of catching an error in preparation or finding an unsafe item and correcting it before it get’s someone sick.

Imagine a world where restaurants employees completed all of their checklists accurately and when they didn’t you were at least able to catch that they didn’t and coach them about the importance of doing them correctly.  How much better would your restaurant run?

If every shift your team checked everything that was important enough to make it on a checklist.  They checked every temp, tasted items, checked sanitation and portion controls.  The restaurant when opened was clean and ready for guests.

Do you think that running better operations would translate into more sales, safer restaurants, happier guests, and most importantly more profits?

Of course running better ops would accomplish all of that.  If running better operations couldn’t do that then we wouldn’t spend a penny on training or any operational initiative, we would only spend money on marketing because the only way to get sales would be to con people to come to your restaurant one time.

By the way, this is what the restaurant managers and owners told us on our survey.  100% of them agreed that checklists could help them run better and safer operations.  That is right 100%.

Because checklists when completed diligently and followed-up on work.

The problem with paper checklists is that you can’t tell when they were started, when they ended, who did them, and if they were pencil whipped.  Basically paper cannot help you hold people accountable.  Also, this is for multi-unit owners who cannot be in every location every day, you can’t magically see paper hanging on a wall in a restaurant from your office.

What our industry needs is a checklist solution that is as easy to complete as paper checklists but allows us to hold our managers accountable and get visibility into our daily operations.

This solution would need to do the following things to be effective:

  • Needs to hold managers accountable by tracking time, location, response cadence, and  actual geo location.
  • Needs to be able to identify unsafe operating conditions and communicate that to management.
  • Needs to as easy as paper to use, with minimal training time.
  • Needs to be as flexible as paper being able to capture different types of information, not just True and False questions.
  • Needs to be better than paper allow you to utilize mobile technology to take pictures and leave additional comments.
  • Most importantly you need to be able to get at the data you are collecting and start using it to make better operations decisions.

A solution that could replace paper checklists and hold people accountable at the store level up through the corporate level of a system could drive better, safer, and more profitable restaurants.

A restaurant company that could deploy a solution like this and start holding their unit managers more accountable and harness this new feed of operations data could optimize their operations and beat their competition by running more efficiently and making better decisions.

Think about the data that corporate restaurant management has access to today.  They have register, inventory/ordering, and customer service data and they use that data to make the best decisions that they can.  If you used a checklist solution to capture pertinent operations data at the store level, which would drive better operations.  You could also use the date with your other data feeds such as sales, inventory, and customer service to create a complete picture of how your restaurants were operating. Remember that operations affect sales, inventory, food costs, and customer service, its not he other away around.

It would be a major competitive advantage for any restaurant system that took advantage of operations data.  Look at how companies like Walmart, FedEx, Nordstrom, and Google use data to streamline operations and generate increased profits.  Restaurant chains could do the same thing if they had the data, which they have, but just need to get it into an accessible, usable format.

How do you do this in your chain?  You should implement the OpsAnalitica Inspector platform in your system for daily operations checklists and corporate inspections.  The OpsAnalitica Inspector will hold your managers and teams more accountable at the restaurant level and our custom reporting and data warehouse will provide you with the data that you need to optimize your business.

The future of the restaurant industry is possible today for those chains that are bold enough to take the first step forward.  If you are interested in learning more please click here and set up a call with our team.

How Checklist Tags Help Reduce Food Cost

Question and response tagging. 

Sounds great doesn’t it? 

Well… What is it?  

Ok let’s take a look at what question and response tagging is and what it means to your checklists and operations data. It is hugely beneficial and saves you one of your most precious resources. Time. And we all know what time is.  

Let’s say you wanted to see a report with all of your not safe refrigeration temperatures across your chain. Question and response tags make this so unbelievably easy. 

With OpsAnalitica you can get this report generated and emailed to you on a schedule as often as you need. For this particular example we hope that the report is empty. No news is good news. 

Tagging facilitates management by exception. By tagging your questions with a common attribute(s) it allows you to quickly look at those questions across your chain regardless of which checklists/inspections they are associated to or the location.  

To narrow this report down some you might want to only look at temps that are not safe or safe, but not optimal. See, analyzing your temp data over time and comparing it to food cost you might find that there is an optimal temperature range for your operations where you see less spoilage. 

So even though some of your locations might recording safe temps on a daily basis, they may not be in the optimal range. With OpsAnalitica’s dynamic scoring and response tagging you can tag and score temp responses appropriately based on the temp recorded in the line check.  

For example you might give 0 points and the not safe and not optimal tags for temps above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, 5 points and the safe tag for temps that are between 33-34 and 38-40, and finally 10 points and the safe and optimal tags for temps between 35-37.  

Now you can focus your time on getting all your locations to the optimal range, thus reducing food spoilage and increasing profits 

This is just one example. There are tons more. Staff readiness, FOH cleanliness, any metric that you feel is important, etc.  

The goal is to maximize your time and expertise on the areas and locations that need you the most. Provide you with the actionable data that you need without all the distractions.  

2016 is right around the corner, and we all want to start it off right. Watch our 14 minute recorded demo by clicking here to see how OpsAnalitica uses question and response tagging to help restaurant operators across the world run better operations.   

Commit to running better, safer, and more profitable restaurants with OpsAnalitica in 2016.  There is still time, we can have most organizations up and running within 1 business day.   

If you would rather see a live demo and get all your questions answered, click here to schedule 

If you have any questions give me a call or send me an email any time.

Inspection, Managerial and Custom Reports

We have spent all of 2015 to get to this point; our data warehouse is up and running, and we are releasing our first set of managerial reports.

Let me explain how reports work in the OpsAnalitica platform. We have three types of reports: Inspection, Managerial and Custom:

Inspection Reports: consist of summary views of all the checklists that have been submitted and the question and answer views of the individual checklists.
These are very powerful reports because you can see the frequency, duration, and scores that your individual restaurants are getting. Plus you see the actual checklists and individual answers that your team is capturing.

Managerial Reports: these reports span your entire organization and can look across all locations and checklists to bring you summary data. The power in these reports is that they have advanced filtering so you can drill in and get the information you need to make better decisions.

Custom Reports: we can now build you custom reports out of the data warehouse to give you the exact information you need to run your business. We will get on a web meeting and will build you the report just like you build a custom pizza.

I would like to invite you to check out some short videos on our new reports by clicking here. You’ll be able to see:

  • Pencil Whippers Report
  • Refrigeration Question Tag Report
  • Trend Line Report
  • Demo of the Inspector in Action

2016 is right around the corner, and we all want to start it off right. Watch our report videos today.

Commit to running better, safer, and more profitable restaurants with OpsAnalitica in 2016. There is still time, we can have most organizations up and running within 1 business day.

Don’t have time for videos but want to see a live demo, click here to schedule.

Free Management by Exception Webinar

We would like to invite you to our Running Better Restaurants in Less Time webinar, on 11/5/2015 at 3:00 pm Centralclick here to register.

This webinar is going to be packed full of best practices around managing your restaurants by exception.

Management By Exception (MBE):  is a practice where only significant deviations from set standards, ex: unsafe temperatures or operating conditions, are brought to the attention of management. The idea behind it is that management’s attention will be focused only on those areas in need of action and immediate follow-up.

We are going to cover the following topics:  

  • Management by Exception for Restaurants
  • The Power of Exception Reports & Dynamic Scoring
  • How to Implement Exception Reports in your Company
  • Building Exception Reports in the OpsAnalitica Report Builder

This webinar is going to be full of good information, and you are guaranteed to leave with some ideas that you could implement in your business immediately.

Register Here – act now as these webinar’s fill up quick.

We all know that the only way to get location managers to do what we need them to do is to hold them accountable and follow-up.

Implementing a MBE program in your chain will give you the tools to follow-up quickly and consistently.

Webinar:  Running Better Restaurants in Less Time

Time & Date:  11/5/2015 3:00 pm Central

Click to Register

Face the Facts: It’s a Drag and Drop World – Part III

Here’s part III of the series, the final installment. To catch up on part I click here, part II click here.

How to Craft a Workflow Strategy

  • Seek out a check-list driven workflow app provider that has restaurant specific knowledge.
  • Examine the pedigree of the management of the app provider.  The restaurant business is perhaps the most idiosyncratic business in the world.  Do they really know what goes on in the kitchen and on the floor?
  • Don’t be a guinea pig for a company that’s trying to break into the restaurant sector with new app development.
  • See how quickly the workflow app provider can implement you with their “off the shelf” apps, and how quickly they can customized a new workflow app for you.  Sometimes, as with OpsAnalitica, it’s as simple as upoading a spreadsheet.
  • Make sure your provider offers dashboard views of procedure compliance.
  • Make sure your provider offers analytics of your operations, because they are the “window into the soul” of your business. 

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Maximizing Your ROI

  • Technology at any cost is worthless unless it quickly pays back your investment.
  • Accountability management workflow apps, like those from OpsAnalitica, are famously quick to earn back initial investments… in part because they are relatively inexpensive to put in place to begin with.
  • When searching providers, be sure to look for an ROI calculator, or case studies that show how quick the earn-back was.

Finally, ask your accountability management workflow app provider for their input on which apps will do the most to optimize your restaurant locations.

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Face the Facts: It’s a Drag and Drop World – Part I

You either get dragged (or drag yourself) into restaurant management and accountability technology…

Or be forced to drop out for running an unprofitable business.

There is no middle ground.

That’s for one simple reason: Perhaps 15 years ago it was possible to run a business without a web page, but today it is not. You cannot run a successful restaurant without technology. It’s impossible to do so profitably. It’s just a matter of how much and what kind of technology you adopt.

The days of the hippy cafes or sandwich shops managed all loosey goosey are long gone.  Now, competitors with iPads, tablets, web apps, and interactive spreadsheets will eat your lunch, while serving lunch to all the customers who used to go to the old establishment.

Whether it’s food inventory management, staff scheduling, reservations, or automated line checks, restaurant management and accountability technology is here to stay, and it’s only getting more innovative, more seamless, more integrated.  In fact, the next wave of restaurant management technology is focused workflow and accountability management, and there are exciting solutions on the market today.

Enforcing Best Practice Management

  • Today’s workflow management and accountability technology actually enforces best practices.  The workflows are driven forth through procedurally organized critical paths.
  • That means automated management of such activities as:
    • Line checks
    • Temp checks
    • Menu standardization
    • Setup checks
    • Open checklists
    • Closing checklists
    • Employee onboarding
    • Employee training
    • OSHA compliance
    • Health inspection compliance
    • Any procedure: You name it, even custom workflows
  • These critical paths can be set up to be self-improving, and informed by positive feedback loops.
  • The procedures and workflow that used to be dependent on someone’s memory, or on a list taped to the walk-in… they can now be standardized in an app suite.
  • The value of any standardized workflow is only as good as your ability to put in the hands of all your workers.
  • App-driven workflows can be easily deployed on smart phones, iPads, and tablets.  Linked to the internet, the data that spins off from the apps can feed corporate awareness of operations at extremely granular levels.
  • Reporting and compliance can be monitored through management dashboards.

Click here to view part II.

Visibility: What Does It Mean For Multi-Unit Operators

How to Drive Consistent Daily Execution

There are two ways that you can drive consistent daily execution in your operations:

  1. You can nag and set reminders for your staff to do things, basically micromanage every aspect of your operations.
  2. You can hire and train the right staff then integrate them into the operations, teach them why you do certain things and their importance to the success of the business.

Number 1 will work, but there are a plethora of problems associated to this management style. First off it’s annoying to have to be that manager. You don’t want to be a babysitter. The employees hate it because they don’t feel empowered.  This is the farthest from mutually beneficial as it gets and you will wind up with very high turnover.

Also before too long the nagging and reminders just become background noise that gets tuned out. The manager will get yes’d to death and employees will just start telling them what they want to hear, but in the end the bare minimum gets accomplished to keep their job.

Recently I was backing out of my garage and hit a car that was parked in my driveway. In my defense there’s very rarely a car parked in my driveway, but it still shouldn’t have happened because I have a backup camera and sensors that beep when I get close to things.

So why did this happen still with all these warnings/reminders telling me that something was in my way? I had trained my brain to tune out the sensors beeping when I pull out of my garage because they go off every single time I pull out of the garage.

When I go through the garage door jamb it goes off because I’m close enough. Then right outside the door on the driver’s side there’s a large shrub that sets off the sensors and then when I get towards the back of my driveway my neighbor’s bushes set them off. So it has just become noise to me that I tune out because they have “cried wolf” so many times. So now my brain ignores the sensors when I pull my car out of my garage. This will happen to any requests or tasks that have no perceived value to the person that’s supposed to act on these requests/reminders/tasks.

Now with number 2 you will develop a reliable, consistent team that executes every shift because it’s second nature to them and they feel that the required tasks are meaningful and contribute to the overall success of the business. As a manager rather than nagging or reminding them to perform pre-shift inspections or line checks, you instead train and explain to them the importance of performing the tasks. Then you follow up that they are getting done. In other words you inspect what you expect.

If they aren’t getting done then you have a training opportunity where you give feedback and again explain the importance of these checks. Show them that you are using the data drive business decisions that will make the operations better and more profitable which will show in their bonus. If you keep having this discussion you should probably find a new manager.

This is where an automated checklist/inspection platform is so valuable. You now have time/date/user stamped audit trail of when checks were started and completed and by whom. You can access the data from anywhere without having to ask someone to send it to you. You can now manage by exception and spend the bulk of your time with the locations/managers that need you the most. Over time you will be able to draw correlations between your best and poorest performing locations. Now you use that data to drive decisions to run better operations and increase profits.

Click here to learn more about how OpsAnalitica helps our clients across the country automate their checklists/inspections and run better operations.

Due Care, What Does it Mean in Restaurants